Personal

My friend Stuart Ryland, 1969-2020

Today was the funeral of my friend Stuart Ryland.  Stu was a great friend and Christian brother and his passing has devastated me. Stuart’s younger brother Andrew has been one of my best friends since I was 7, so for many years I saw him mainly as ‘my mate’s big brother’.  Stuart was always nice… Continue reading My friend Stuart Ryland, 1969-2020

Ethics & Christian living

Its Christmas-time, there’s no need to be afraid?

Rembrandt 'The adoration of the shepherds' The opening line to Band Aid's Do they know its Christmas? in 1984 were sung by Paul Young: ‘Its Christmas-time, there’s no need to be afraid’ Many people may find it hard to sing along to these lines in Christmas 2020. This year there is probably a longer list… Continue reading Its Christmas-time, there’s no need to be afraid?

Recommended books, Theology & Church

Is the biblical God a misogynistic bully?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvd2MNT642Q Since lockdown I have listened to a lot of podcasts whilst out walking. One of my favourites has become Unbelievable which hosts debates on matters of faith and belief. The show attracts high profile authors and activists and often pits Christians against atheists. These debates could easily become pointless and bitter, like listening to… Continue reading Is the biblical God a misogynistic bully?

Social commentary

Blokes, beer & banter. But can we talk about things that really matter?

Covid-19 has ruined many things. It has taken loved ones, destroyed livelihoods, damaged mental health, disrupted education and suspended much of the family and community life we hold precious. But there has been some silver linings. And for me, one of these is how much more time I have spent with my oldest group of… Continue reading Blokes, beer & banter. But can we talk about things that really matter?

Ethics & Christian living

The responsibility of the least segregated place in my community

“I think it is one of the shameful tragedies of our nation that 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours in Christian America…any church that stands against integration, and which has a segregated body, is standing against the spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ.”  Martin Luther King, 1960 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q881g1L_d8… Continue reading The responsibility of the least segregated place in my community

Recommended books, Social commentary

‘Beware of Pity’: an old story with a timeless message

"There are two types of pity. One, the weak-minded, sentimental sort, is really just the heart’s impatience to rid itself as quickly as possible of the painful experience of being moved by another person’s suffering.” The novel Beware of Pity was first published by Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig in 1939. I have just read the… Continue reading ‘Beware of Pity’: an old story with a timeless message

Films & music, Recommended books

Recreating Narnia: an open letter to Netflix

Dear Netflix, Congratulations on acquiring the rights to The Chronicles of Narnia. I am writing to share five thoughts on what Netflix needs to bear in mind to make the series a success. I cannot claim to know anything about producing films or TV series. But I do know about Narnia. Like millions of others, the… Continue reading Recreating Narnia: an open letter to Netflix

Ethics & Christian living

We rarely know the impact of what we do (for good and bad)

In the late 1990s, I was the manager of a hostel for young people in central London. One of the residents, I’ll call him Will, had serious mental health problems. These manifested in paranoia and bizarre delusions about religious conspiracies and plots. Sadly, his health declined and the extremity of his behaviour increased. The worst… Continue reading We rarely know the impact of what we do (for good and bad)

Theology & Church

‘The Cross and Shame: speaking of atonement to a shame-filled society’ by Rebecca Winfrey [review]

A continual challenge in Christian community work and social action is the connection between the practical work being done to the actual message itself.  People can pour into church buildings for toddler groups, foodbanks, lunch clubs, youth clubs and night shelters. But often these social action programmes become detached and disconnected from the message which… Continue reading ‘The Cross and Shame: speaking of atonement to a shame-filled society’ by Rebecca Winfrey [review]